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Post by: Abigail Hayes

Reflection while in Uganda

Candidly, my time in Uganda has been challenging. As a preface to this blog post, I am finding much encouragement in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Therefore, rejoice with me in the victory that I already have in Christ, amidst things not going “to plan.”

I arrived in Uganda with anticipation and excitement, eager to begin legal work in a nation I love. Right after I arrived, I learned of the prevalence of COVID in Uganda. Cases have peaked and the sudden increase has put the nation in a state of confusion and fear. The night I arrived, a curfew was established, many things closed, and my work changed to a rotation of two days in person, three remote, and all meetings over Zoom.

At first, I was struck with disappointment, but then, the Lord started to remind me of the privilege I have. Although the experience has been mostly remote, I have been able to gain insight into the organization and learn how to combine casework and programs to bring change, something I hope to continue to learn throughout my internship.

I am assigned with a memo that I cannot speak too much about, however, I get to research what I find the most interesting and rewarding: how to prevent abuse towards women and children. Funny enough, much of the research direction I am taking sparked from my undergraduate moot court problem, specifically, the benefits of closed-circuit television for victims of violence and abuse. It is absolutely crazy that God has used a fictitious moot court problem to speed up the research process!

For the most part, I am in a writing and researching world that feels similar to my law school desk. However, there are moments when I realize the stark difference between the Ugandan and American legal systems. For instance, in cases of abuse of young boys: imagine the police officers, judges, and magistrates laughing as they read the evidence surrounding the case, unable to fathom that young boys could be abused. Also, imagine parents rejecting their children after they have been abused, telling social workers “I don’t care what you do with them, you can kill them if you want.” Finally, imagine a young girl being abused and having no one to tell and nowhere to go, because she has no access to a phone, the police will not do anything unless she pays them money (she has none), and lives with her abuser. All of these reasons, and many more, are the reasons why I will become a legal advocate. Something in me simply cannot stand by and let this happen, and I absolutely believe that God has created me for a career in this type of advocacy.

Throughout this internship I have been reminded of the passion I have for the abused and broken, the fire that stirs in my heart when I hear of injustice to those that do not even know they have a voice to speak. No matter the nation and pandemic or no pandemic, the Lord has provided consistent assurance to my heart that this is what I have been created to do. It has been an honor to learn and work with International Justice Mission (IJM). I am grateful.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.